Jaya Lakshmi is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative, creative artists in the realm of contemporary chant music. Both deeply spiritual and evocatively sensual, her music is an intoxicating weave of mystical sonorities: ethereal Vedic chants that lift the soul up high, percolating tabla beats that make you want to move, cutting edge dance grooves, harmonium drones and even a little Gypsy spice thanks to the use of flamenco guitar. It is music for prayer, dance and deep trance, providing the perfect accompaniment for yoga, ecstatic dance or chilling out.
Born into a family of musicians, Jaya Lakshmi's natural talent for creating music developed early. She was trained in piano by her mother, who was an accomplished pianist and teacher, and influenced by her brother, a popular rock drummer on the local music scene. She began singing and writing songs on the guitar at age 15 and formed a band in high school that performed originals and covers of popular folk songs with four-part harmonies. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1987 with a degree in Anthropology, she moved to rural Western Oregon where she resumed her songwriting and singing, inspired by the lush green forests, misty mountains, and the ring of the twelve string guitar.
After 5 more years of chilly winters, she moved with her two-year-old daughter to the big island of Hawaii in 1992 where she was introduced to Srila Govinda Maharaj from West Bengal India, from whom she received harinam initiation and her spiritual name Jaya Lakshmi, which means "victory to the goddess Lakshmi," the Hindu goddess of prosperity. The seed of bhakti (devotion) had been planted deeply in her heart and began to flourish as she dove into learning the mantras and devotional songs of the Gaudiya Vaisnav tradition (Hare Krishna). On the enchanted slopes of Mauna Kea her second daughter was born in 1994.
The Hawaiian Islands, known for their rich spiritual energy, have opened the door to many faiths. Here, Jaya Lakshmi made a profound connection with Hawaiian and Native American spirituality through traditional ceremony and the singing of powerful medicine songs on the Big Island and Maui, where she moved in 1996. This greatly enriched and inspired her musical creations from here on.
On Maui in 1997 she met up with Deva Priyo and Om and formed the band Lost at Last, which officially marked the beginning of her professional music career. The vision of the band was to blend ancient and modern music (acoustic and electronic) in a mood of love and devotion, with world chanting and devotional singing. The band quickly became very popular, assuming an almost cult-like status for festival-goers at Burning Man, Harmony Fest, and other alternative events. Jaya Lakshmi performed as the lead singer and keyboardist for the band, also playing the harmonium, 12-string guitar and various percussion instruments. She was a prominent songwriter in the band, whose first major album titled "Lost at Last," was released in August of 2001 (RCA) . The band finally relocated to Northern California and Oregon in order to keep building their growing fan base on the West coast, where she met Steve Gordon of Sequoia.
After Lost at Last dissolved in 2004, Jaya Lakshmi began to compose her own original electronic music using Ableton Live, establishing the term 'Kirtronica’, describing a new genre of music that is becoming more popular in the yoga world: electronic dance music combined with live Sanskrit/Indian chanting (kirtan) with various live instrumentation. She eventually produced two albums on Sounds True Records "Kirtronica" (2013) and "Kundalini Kirtronica" (2015)
In the spring of 2001 she co-wrote and sang two songs on William Ackerman's new CD, "Hearing Voices", on RCA/Windham Hill records, which garnered a Grammy nomination for best New Age album. In 2002 she contributed vocals for Steve Gordon's CD Drum Prayer on the Sequoia Records label.
Jaya Lakshmi became a Sequoia Records artist in November 2002 with her debut sacred chant solo release Ocean of Mercy, released in April 2003. The album overflows with Lakshmi's blissful, heartfelt and passionate devotional singing of ancient Vedic chants blended masterfully with sarod, chill out electronica grooves and flamenco guitar. Her follow-up album, Jewel of Hari, released in March of 2004 features more of her signature sound; only this time with an even warmer, more intimate feel. This release quickly hit the iTunes Music Store's New Age Top 10.
Jaya Lakshmi teamed up with producer Steve Gordon to release her third solo album, Sublime, which is a perfect meeting of sacred chant and electronica. In 2009 her fourth Sequoia Records album, Radiance was released. Again produced by Steve Gordon, it is a more intimate and acoustic set of songs that are ideal for yoga and meditation.
Given the challenge of building a music career and having to support her daughters, she was faced with the fact that she needed more reliable income. In 2005 she was blessed with the good fortune of landing a steady job in what was to be one of the most successful new businesses on the rise: Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss.
Coconut Bliss has been a regular sponsor and supporter of Jaya Lakshmi's tours over the years.
Juggling family life with a job and music career, she still managed to create the four solo mantra albums with Sequoia Records. During this time she also continued to perform occasional solo concerts and at summer festivals, often sharing the stage with talented artists such as Jai Uttal, Dave Stringer, CC White, Shimshai and Tina Malia. She played regularly with Daniel Paul, who also contributed tabla on her albums.
In 2010 she met Ananda Yogiji in Eugene, Oregon. Realizing their powerful potential together, they joined forces musically and entered into what was also to be a profoundly creative love relationship, that merged career and personal life. In just over 10 years together, they released 12 mantra albums on Sounds True, Spirit Voyage and independently. When her younger daughter graduated high school in 2012, Lakshmi left her 'day job' at Coconut Bliss and they began touring together full-time.
They established their 'Altar of Love' weekend retreats, which included a sacred chant concert, yoga, mantra and singing workshops, performing live 'Kirtronica' for ecstatic dance and a closing cacao ceremony. They toured regularly on the West Coast USA, Hawaii, and have led Altar of Love retreats also in Bali and Guatemala. They have played and taught yoga at numerous festivals, including Bhakti/Shakti Fest, Sat Nam Fest, Beloved Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Bali Spirit, Prana Fest, Hanuman Festival and Telluride Yoga Festival, among others.
Since parting ways in 2020, they still manage to create music and work together occasionally. Jaya Lakshmi continues to explore her unique expression as a singer, songwriter, musician and composer with her upcoming solo recordings and performances. A dedicated yogi, she has regularly practiced hatha-based yoga since 1996, and since 2010 integrated Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan into her practice. In the spring of 2020 she received a 500 hour certification from Sattva Yoga Academy in Rishikesh, India, under the direction of Anand Mehrotra. She leads several Yoga, Chant and Adventure retreats annually, in Hawaii, Sedona, Arizona and other amazing places. She continues to tour and offer concerts, workshops and classes around the world.